The Dereliction of Duty - Part 2: To Tell of Him

The wind sifted through the loose grains of sand, creating clouds of dust that hung in the air. The whole place, people and buildings included, was covered in the dirt’s stain.

That was why the traveller caught everyone’s attention. They could tell he was a stranger simply by the fact he was clean. Even his white robes were unmarred, as yet, by the yellow dust.

But the people lost their interest quite quickly as he made his way down the street. They busied themselves, ducked into doorways, or hurried away as he approached. He tried and tried in vain to start a conversation, but not one of them would stop to speak to him.

The children were the only ones who didn’t avoid him. A small group of these had been following along behind. Curiosity animating their dirty, little faces. Finally, the traveller turned around to look at them. Their elders wouldn't hear him, so it seemed that he would have to speak to them if his message was to be shared.  

He walked on until he found a quiet corner on a side street and there, to the children’s horror, he sat right down in the dirt and dust. Apparently unaware that he was marring his clean, white garments.

With a welcoming smile, he beckoned for the children to join him and began to tell them a story. The story was about a king. That much they heard though many of the man’s words were lost amidst frequent peals of laughter and bouts of harsh bickering. Generally, children like stories but this story was about a king and these children had little interest in kings. Thus, the longer the stranger talked  the more disinterested his listeners became. They left, one by one, to seek out more pleasing entertainment. Until a single child was left sitting before the storyteller.

“Well, my boy.The traveler said. “I am to tell of him and I have tried.”

“I am Inphath.The child replied cordially. He had mistaken the comment for an introduction and so  rose to his feet with an outstretched hand. “ I am very glad to meet you, Totellovim!”

The man laughed at the child’s mistake but said nothing to correct him. He didn’t mind the name and, not wishing to make his own known, he gladly accepted it.

“Well, Inphath,” he said, “tell me why you stayed to listen when all the others have gone?”

“They do not like to hear of the king. But I…” Inphath lowered his voice and leaned close to Totellovim. “I must learn all I can about him.”

“Oh?” Totellovim asked in surprise.And what makes you so interested?

 “I,” Inphath whispered, “intend to find Him!”


The Dereliction of Duty - Part 1: An Old Letter

To my dearest son

With a heavy heart, I leave you and your mother as I go to serve our king. 

 I write you this letter for two purposes: 

First, to inspire your heart to courage and you to action. Second, to give you a brief history of the land in which I leave you. I want you to understand who its people are and why they choose to be in bondage when they need not. 

Duty was once ruled by a king. A king who was faithful. A king who governed the land justly and with kindness. But the people of Duty are an unruly lot and they wished to be free - for every man to be free to do what seemed right in his own heart. For this reason, the Gatakepers always considered it hard to be ruled by a king and eventually they revolted against him and drove him from the land.

On that day a strange thing occurred in the land of Duty. The king’s court and castle, with all the grounds that were around them, sunk into the earth. Leaving the gaping hole that the people have come to call 'the Dereliction'. 

Before long, all the water in the land drained into that hole. The rivers poured into it and the lakes, with nothing to feed them, were soon used up. The rains continue but the water the people collect is barely enough to quench their thirst. Many men dug wells but none have found any water, nor will they. The land is in a state of drought. Even the ground itself is thirsty. It is dry and cracked. It absorbs every drop of rain yet it produces nothing. So, we face famine as well as drought.

If these woes were not enough, my son, yet another has been added. Though the people don't yet recognise it as a woe. A new race of people have come out of the Dereliction. It seems that the hole created a passage from their homeland to ours. Through that passage and by the means of natural steps carved into the side of the Dereliction they gain access into the heart of the land. They come in large numbers but they do not come brandishing arms. Rather they have brought with them a blackish sort of bread. It is soft and sweet and, they say, baked with black wheat that grows in the damp soil at the bottom of the Dereliction. This bread is a valuable commodity among a starving people.  With it these people, Fleshlins as they call themselves, purchase control over Duty. The Gatakepers will soon be no more than slaves to their wishes.

As a final measure, the Fleshlins have persuaded the Gatakepers to build a wall around Duty’s borders. “You must protect yourselves from enemies,” they tell the people. But in truth the Fleshlins are the Gatakepers greatest enemy.

Therefore, be watchful, my son. I leave you here in hopes that you might one day lead the people back to their king. Search for a way to remind them of him. To remind them that Duty is rightfully his. To him I go now, for he has called for me. But I shall be at your side to help in the time of your greatest need!

    The Gate belongs to the Gatakepers,
With the King,

 The letter was old and crinkled. The lines along which the boy once again folded it had become permanent creases in the paper. He was nearing a city as he tucked it into his pocket. On his shoulder, the boy carried a collection of tin items. This bundle he would trade for the blackish bread his father’s letter had mentioned. It was the only food he had ever known.


The Field You’re In - Allowing God to Use You Where You Are

Little kids often dream about what they will be when they grow up. Doctors, soccer players, soldiers, princesses - the possibilities seem endless. My friend, Naomi, always wanted to be a missionary. She couldn’t wait to travel to far away places and learn to share the gospel in a language different from her own. 

In a few weeks, Naomi will be getting on a plane headed for Brazil to help friends who are working in the mission field there. But this trip won’t be the beginning of Naomi’s missionary adventures. Before she steps onto the plane, before she had even scheduled her trip to Brazil, Naomi started learning how to be a missionary. 

Her training began right here in North America, not in a missionary training school or at seminary but out on the streets of a little town near her home. With a few tracts tucked into her pocket, the gospel message fresh in her mind, and the Holy Spirit urging her on Naomi began to look for people to share the good news with. 

“I used to think that I would share the gospel once I became a missionary,” Naomi told me over the phone one evening, “but God’s been showing me that if I’m not sharing it here, I’ll never share it somewhere else. I’ve realized that if I’m going to be a missionary I’ve got to start now. Here.” 

Christians Share the Gospel 

The lesson that Naomi learned, and is continuing to learn, is one that applies not just to those who feel called to go onto the mission field but to all who call ourselves Christians. 

Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt xxviii. 19-20, esv)

Jesus didn’t first ask His disciples which of them would like to be missionaries, rather He told them that they all were. So the terms ‘missionary’ and ‘Christian’ should actually be synonymous. Some Christians are called to other countries to share the gospel. Others are called to share it in the hospital where they work, on a soccer team, or while walking through town. But wherever we are, we are Christians and Christians share the gospel. 

Unlikely Mission Fields 

In a little town in the USA, Naomi’s been spreading the good news. God has opened doors for her to hand out tracts and to speak to people in their homes, at the grocery store, on the street corner, at a seniors care facility, and recently in a chicken processing plant. 

When Naomi was offered a temporary, part-time position at the plant she accepted, eager to raise money for her trip to Brazil. It didn’t take long for her to see how desperately her coworkers needed the Lord and she suddenly realized that she’d been given her mission field! Right there. In the chicken processing plant.

Naomi’s temporary mission field reminded me so much of the story of another missionary who found himself in a similar circumstance. He too found that God was able to use him right where he was.

Brother Andrew and the Chocolate Factory 

My job was to count the boxes at the end of one of the packing assemblies, then to wheel them to the shipping room. A slack-faced boy led me through a maze of corridors and stairways and at last pushed open the door to an enormous assembly room where perhaps two hundred girls were ranged around a dozen conveyor belts. He left me at one of them. 

“Girls, this is Andrew. Have fun!” 

To my astonishment, a chorus of whistles greeted this introduction. Then, shouted suggestions. 

“Hey, Ruthie, how would you like him?”

“Can’t tell by looking.”

Then followed perversion and bathroom talk. Even my years in the army had not prepared me for the language I heard that morning.

The leader of the foul wisecracking, I discovered, was a girl named Greetje. Her favourite subject was sodomy: she speculated aloud on which animal would find its soul mate in me. I was grateful when my cart was full and I could escape for a few moments to what seemed like the sanctuary of male company in the shipping room. 

Too soon, it was unloaded and I had to run the gamut of whistles in the big room again. 

“This may be a mission field, Lord,” I thought as I took the receipt for the boxes to the timekeeper’s window in the centre of the room. “But it’s not mine. I’ll never learn to talk to these girls. They’d take anything I said and twist it around until -”

 I stopped. For smiling at me through the glass partition of the timekeeper’s booth were the warmest eyes I had ever seen. They were brown. No, they were green. And she was very young. Blond, slender, she couldn’t have been out of her teens, and she was handling the most responsible job on the floor: the work orders and finished-work receipts. As I handed mine through the window, her smile broke into a laugh. 

“Don’t mind them,” she said gently. “This is the treatment they give every newcomer. In a day or two it’ll be someone else.”

My heart was flooded with gratitude.

She handed me a new shipping order from a pile in front of her, but still I stood there, staring at her. In a room where the rest of the women wore enough powder and rouge to make up a circus, here was a girl without a trace of makeup. Only her own fresh, young colouring set off those eyes that were never the same shade twice. 

The more I looked at her, the more I was sure I had seen her before. But the question would sound cliche. Reluctantly, I went back to the assembly line. 

The hours seem to drag. By the end of the long day on my feet, every step on my ankle was agony. Try as I would, I began to limp. Greetje spotted it at once. 

“What’s the matter, Andy?” she shrieked. “You fall out of bed?”

“East Indies,” I said, hoping to shut her up.

Greetje’s yell of triumph could be heard all over the room. “We got a war hero, girls! Is it true what they say about Sukarno, Andy? Does he like them very young?”

It was the worst mistake I could have made. For days, long after I would have lost the value of novelty for them - the girls questioned me about what they imagined to be the exotic life of the East. 

More than once I would have quit the job in sheer boredom at their one-track conversations - except for the smiling face behind the glass partition. I took to going there even when I had no receipt to deliver. Sometimes along with a receipt I’d slip a note of my own: “You’re looking very nice today,” or “Half an hour ago you frowned. What was the matter?” I kept wondering how she felt about the talk she overheard, and what she was doing in a place like this anyhow. And always, I was haunted by the feeling that I knew her.

I worked at the factory for a month before I got up the courage to tell her, “I’m worried about you. You’re too young and too pretty to be working with this crowd.”

The girl threw back her head and laughed. “Why Grampa!” she said “What old fashioned ideas you have! Actually” - she leaned close to the little window - “they’re not a bad crowd. Most of them just need friends, and they don’t know any other way to get them.”

She looked at me as though wondering whether to confide in me. “You see,” she said softly, “I’m a Christian. That’s why I came to work here.”

I gaped in astonishment at my fellow missionary. And all at once I remembered where I had seen this face before. The veteran’s hospital! This was the girl who had invited us to the tent meeting! And that was the place where…

I stumbled over my words in my eagerness to tell her all that had happened, and how I had come here to Ringers on the same mission as her own. Her name, she told me, was Corrie van Dam. And from that day on Corrie and I were a team. 

My job of collecting the finished boxes took me up and down the rows of packagers, where I could keep a lookout for anyone with problems. I would pass word to Corrie, who could speak to the girl in private when she came to the window for her next work order.” -Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler (p 46 - 48)

Share the Gospel Right Where You Are

Corrie and Andrew took every opportunity to serve their fellow workers. They gained the girls friendship and trust and soon had the opportunity to invite some of them to “youth weekends” that were being put on by a British evangelist. 

Surprisingly enough, the first person among their colleges to be saved was Greetje! In Andrew’s own words, “Greetje was a changed person. Or rather the same person with a tremendous addition.” 

Their mission field was a chocolate factory. It was the place where they worked, yet neither Andrew nor Corrie went there for a pay cheque. Their primary goal was to bring God’s love and the changing power of the gospel to needy souls. 

I hope that Andrew, Corrie, and Naomi’s stories have challenged you and I pray that they will encourage you to look for the opportunities that God has placed right in your very own mission field! 

In Christ